For some Americans this may be the first year they are eligible, and can afford, health insurance but the law enabling that insurance is complicated- beginning with more than 1,000 pages of text.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is more often referred to, was signed into law in March 2010.
The law promises a way to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the United States.
The law also enacts a fine if someone chooses to go without purchasing insurance, $95 or 1-percent of reported income (for an individual), whichever is greater.
The problems with getting coverage are numerous for some but there is help; certified, free help at that. Right here in Barnwell County, there are Certified Application Counselors who are ready to help those wishing to purchase insurance and there are no strings. Low Country Health Care, Barnwell Family Medicine and the Family Medical Center of Blackville are providing these free counselors to help residents navigate the new market place and "run the numbers" on which plan may be best suited for residents.
Those seeking help do not have to be or become a patient of LCHC.
The counselors' have appointment times available and they have also set up two upcoming sessions to help those seeking insurance.
The first session is this Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Barnwell County Library from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. There is also a session Feb. 20 at the Williston Town Hall from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Free transportation can also be provided if those interested call by Wednesday, Feb. 12 , for this week's session and by Feb. 19 for the session on Feb. 20.
Health Insurance Market Place: What you need to know
Obamacare has increased the regulations on health care, provided subsidies or tax credits for those qualifying and purchasing insurance as well as a host of other reforms. Some of the most talked about changes have already been implemented, even to those who already have health insurance.
One of those new rules allows an insured parent to keep their children on their family plan until they turn 26 years of age. Other reforms include, stopping insurance companies from "dropping" coverage when an individual is often sick, preventing gender discrimination, stopping unjustified rate hikes and it does away with life-time and annual limits. It also does away with the pre-existing condition clause most insurance companies used in the past to deny payment or coverage.
There have been many who have tried to navigate the marketplace to purchase insurance or just to see what they qualify for. Some have been successful in obtaining coverage on their own. However, some have only become more confused or have not found affordable coverage.
LCHC's full-time application counselor Kelly Deitemeyer's job is simply to assist those seeking health insurance.
Deitemeyer sent along a list of 14 things people need to know about Obamacare. (See chart at right)
To help those who are still seThose interested in setting up a private appointment, free of charge, with a Certified Application Counselor, should call Deitemeyer at (803) 259-5762 ext 220. Deitemeyer also accepts walk-ins but encourages appointments. Her office is located at 86 Wren St., Barnwell.
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